Keep girlsglobe.org Raising Voices in 2018!

We have a very exciting announcement!

Girls’ Globe is launching a crowdfunding campaign to allow us to continue to amplify the voices of women and girls in 2018.

We don’t know about you, but here at Girls’ Globe we feel it’s more important today than ever before to invest in spaces where the experiences, opinions and ideas of girls and women can be shared, heard and appreciated.

In light of the events and politics that have dominated our news headlines and social media feeds throughout the past year, from Women’s Marches taking place in almost every corner of the planet, to attacks on women’s health, to a global outpouring of solidarity against harassment with #MeToo, there can be no doubt left in anyone’s mind – a single voice holds great power, and a chorus of voices can change the world. 

It also feels more important than ever to take more time to sit back and to listen – not just to any voice, but to a voice that sounds different to the ones we’re used to hearing day in, day out. Girls’ Globe offers not only a platform to amplify the opinions and ideas of our global community of feminists, advocates and change-makers, but also an invaluable source of information for anyone, anywhere, who is looking to learn and find inspiration to take action of their own.

We are a tiny team supporting a big network of brilliant, creative and passionate people who voluntarily contribute their time, skills and talents. Girls’ Globe runs with almost no overhead costs – our team work remotely all over the world using low-cost, innovative digital tools.

But for us to continue to run girlsglobe.org in 2018, we’re asking our beloved readers and supporters to help us become financially sustainable (there are lots of perks in it for you, too!).

If Girls’ Globe has been useful, informative or inspiring to you, please take a minute to keep us publishing articles, amplifying women and celebrating progress.

Any donation – big or small – is hugely valuable.

You can also support us by lending your networks and social media reach, so please share our crowdfunding campaign as far and wide as you can! None of us can do it alone, but together, we can create a world that is fairer, more equal, and more united. If that sounds like something you’d like to be part of, donate today.

What Girls’ Globe Means to Me

It was September 2016 and I had just started my first semester of graduate school and living in New York City, and was looking for opportunities to work with international NGOs with a focus on women and girls. In my research, I ended up coming across the opportunity to become a blogger with Girls’ Globe. Having worked as a writer and editor for a women’s online magazine in college, and having always enjoyed writing and even considered becoming a journalist as a teenager, joining Girls’ Globe as a blogger was the perfect opportunity for me.

Girls’ Globe has given me a platform to talk about issues that are important to me and issues that I believe are important for others to know about as well, from more personal issues such as mental health and the problem of violence against women in my home country of Brazil, to issues I’m studying and researching in my graduate career such as sexual violence in conflict.

But Girls’ Globe is more than just a platform for me to share my experience and knowledge: it’s also a platform where I can learn about women’s issues in other parts of the world that I wouldn’t otherwise know about. So many times, in reading posts by other bloggers on their experiences as women having to deal with pressure to get married or the reality of how vulnerable we are to sexual violence, I feel less alone.

Girls’ Globe has truly become a community to me: a community which has supported me and encouraged me in some of my darkest moments.

Since early this year, my mental health issues have taken a turn for the worse. It’s not easy for me to share my struggles with anxiety and depression as I always fear people’s reaction, but when I did share them with different women from our Girls’ Globe community, I was met with nothing but kindness, understanding, and encouragement.

Even when I struggled to write posts and felt ‘guilty’ – I love to write, and I found it especially hard when I had an idea and the material to write a post, but was unable to complete it because I was ill – I was met with messages of encouragement to take care of myself and not to worry about anything else.

When my depression was at its worst, and I felt utterly useless and like I had no reason to get out of bed, it was knowing that my fellow bloggers care about me as a person and thinking that there is still so much I want to do with and for Girls’ Globe in the future that gave me a much needed ray of sunshine in my dark days.

At Girls’ Globe, we encourage the potential in every one of our contributors, and we believe in each other and our power to make a positive difference. It isn’t about some unrealistic ambition that we will completely change the world for the better for women and girls (although, hey, we might!), but it’s an understanding that despite our limitations (such as mental health issues), we can all make a positive impact, no matter how small.

This is the heart and soul of Girls’ Globe to me: that we truly believe in the potential of each and every girl and woman in the world to be an agent for good.

I have recently been accepted into a PhD program – a dream come true for me and the opportunity of a lifetime – and I wholeheartedly believe that I wouldn’t have achieved this incredible milestone without the academic and professional opportunities and the personal encouragement and friendships that Girls’ Globe has given me.

Thank you, Girls’ Globe, for everything. For believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself, for being there for me when I felt alone, for helping me grow, and for giving me hope that there is indeed good in the world.

Throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Girls’ Globe is crowdfunding to be able to keep raising voices in 2018. Please support us so that we can continue to share our stories and reach every corner of the world! 

Girls’ Globe is…a Place to Speak Up

I know 2017 hasn’t been a great year for many of us, but I like to think there’s always some good to find in every year. After the events that took place around the world in 2016 (I’m sure you know what I’m talking about…), I was feeling utterly powerless. I felt the need to do something, but I didn’t know what or where or how.

I felt the world was falling apart around me and I wasn’t sure where to start with picking up the pieces. I’m sure that many others in many countries felt this way too. Then, in mid-2017, I found myself facing imminent unemployment, and that’s when I discovered Girls’ Globe. My friend – and now fellow blogger – Gabrielle Rocha Rios introduced me to this amazing, supportive community of strong, outspoken women. They share similar values and a passion for the same causes: gender equality and women’s rights. So, I joined Girls’ Globe!

I’m very thankful for this community. I finally feel powerful.

I finally have a space where I can raise the issues few people around me talk about.

I finally have a platform to both learn about and raise awareness of those issues.

I finally feel that I can speak up and be heard.

Girls’ Globe inspires me to react, to confront, and to report. Girls’ Globe gave me the courage to say #MeToo, to tell my boss I was being harassed by a co-worker, to report a creepy Uber driver, to speak up.

I’ve learned that if we’re always scared of saying the wrong thing, of upsetting others, of creating controversy, we’ll never say anything at all. We’re in the middle of an unprecedented international movement where women are showing the rest of the world the reality of our daily lives. We’re being brave together. We’re standing up for ourselves and we’re standing up for others.

To some people, the number of cases of harassment and abuse we’ve revealed this year is shocking. To us, it’s no surprise at all. Every day more and more cases are brought to light and thanks to that more and more people are realising that almost every woman has gone through some level of trauma in her life because of a man. And men who have abused the power their gender awards them are finally beginning to be held accountable.

So here’s to Girls’ Globe, to being brave, and to kicking up a storm! Let’s continue to speak up.  

Throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Girls’ Globe is crowdfunding to be able to keep raising voices in 2018. Please support us so that we can continue to share our stories and reach every corner of the world! 

Appalled & Accepting: our response to violence

The last time a man sexually harassed me was yesterday. I was running when I heard a whistle followed by, “I like the look of that.” Running faster, I looked back to make sure he wasn’t following me. Then I ran for another 30 seconds and checked again. And then I looked once more to make sure that he was off in the distance.

I responded as I did because I understand the risk I take by running alone. I understand what it means to be reduced to that, a dehumanized sum of my sexual parts, and I understand that a rape would be perceived as my fault. “She shouldn’t have been out there alone,” they’d say. “But what a shame.

This is tense and traumatic space: we live in a society that acknowledges violence against women as wrong, and yet accepts this violence as inevitable and therefore normal.

We speak of Roy Moore with repulsion, wondering how he can be ahead in the polls, and yet he maintains his lead. We mourn the death of Hugh Hefner, lauding him as iconic while completely ignoring the accusations of sexual assault. We even accepted former President George Bush’s admission and rationalization of assault without protest when his press secretary gingerly explained that he [President Bush] has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.

Still, for me the most painful example of the acceptance of violence against women is the man who sits in the White House. Trump has been accused of sexual assault, walked into the dressing room of adolescent girls, bragged about groping women, called women pigs and dogs and directly stated that one must treat em [women] like shit. He was still elected because his blatant disregard of women as humans with equal rights to safety and dignity is excusable in a society that accepts and normalizes violence against us.

This is all so outrageous, isn’t it? And yet it is our lived reality, and one that I’m struggling to find words to describe.

In this reality women are responsible for managing men’s reactions to our bodies. This isn’t a lofty theory; this is the rule of the road. Rape trials routinely examine what a woman was wearing when assaulted. If she passed out because she drank too much, then she was at fault for putting herself in a vulnerable position where – understandably, inevitably – some man could not help but rape her.

When I run, I make sure that my shorts aren’t too short- and yet I know that I could be raped anyway. But I’m doing my due diligence not to provoke the men who will be provoked whether I’m in a bikini or a burlap sack because this social rule is so engrained into my psyche. It’s a prescription for madness.

To fight this madness we’ve begun telling our stories and raising our voices with #MeToo. I have mixed feelings on this campaign because I feel a nauseating irony in telling our stories to those who have written them. Men know the violence around us because they are the ones committing the violence. It’s like telling the butcher that he slaughtered the cow, or telling those responsible for cleaning the carcass that the butcher slaughtered the cow.

Not all men perpetuate violence against women, but too many do – and even more hold space for the contaminated culture.

One in five women living in the United States will be raped in her lifetime. Nine out ten rape survivors are female whereas as over nine out of ten perpetrators are male. These perpetrators are less likely to go to jail or prison than perpetrators of any other category. So, these are normal guys. These are our fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, sons and friends. They have nice manners and good jobs. They watch baseball games and garden. They tell us they love us.

And then some of them will catcall the woman walking to her car. Others will approach her. Others will grab her, assault her, rape her.

No, not all men. But too damn many of them.

I grapple with how we can change a culture that is simultaneously horrified by and accepting of sexual assault, especially when so many ordinary men and women foster this culture through acts, words and silence. But when I apply what I have learned working globally with women and girls, this is what I can come up with:

  1. Believe survivors: only 2-10% of reported sexual assaults are false claims and yet an estimated 63% go unreported, in part because women assume that they will not be believed
  2. Raise boys to change their culture: We teach girls to avoid sexual assault; now it is time we teach boys not to commit sexual assault. This isn’t just telling them to ‘respect women,’ but explaining power and coercion, exploitation and abuse, consent and autonomy. These conversations need to happen repeatedly.
  3. Hold men and boys accountable: Sexist jokes are not funny. Excusing sexual harassment and assault is wrong. We need to reverse the culture of acceptance on a micro level.
  4. Support survivors: Be the friend. That is everything, everything.
  5. Support organizations that support survivors: I donate regularly to RAINN and run their virtual 5k every year. RAINN is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the US and runs a 24/7 phone hotline and Internet chat for survivors in English and Spanish. Its work matters.
  6. Get informed: We have to understand the underpinnings of this culture. If not triggering for you, search #MeToo. Watch films like Audrey and Daisy, read memoirs like Lucky, and listen to what artists like Tori Amos are saying in their music. Read the Girls’ Globe blogs during these 16 Days of Activism. Donate to our crowdfunding campaign to allow us to keep doing what we do. Learn, share, repeat.

Unfortunately, I can’t think of a truly positive ending to a blog addressing the acceptance and normalization of violence against women. The ray of hope is that, despite the seemingly infinite space for violence, we are expanding our resistance through campaigns like these 16 Days of Activism. Change will come. We just have to keep fighting for it.

Girls’ Globe is…the Place Where I Belong

I first met Girls’ Globe in New York, a little over a year ago. I was lucky enough to attend the Global Citizen Festival during the United Nations General Assembly Week as one of the Global Young Leaders from Johnson & Johnson.

As one of J&J’s partners, Girls’ Globe was there to document the process and profile the seventeen Young Leaders from around the globe; young people working on empowering projects and representing issues from their communities – issues that inspired them to do more.

I met the Girls’ Globe team – a group of diverse, intelligent and inspiring woman who were there to share our stories, but at the same time, to share their own. I was very interested to learn more about them. How did they become bloggers for this global organization dedicated to inspiring others? I immediately thought: what an incredible project! How can I be a part of it? I remember casually saying, “hey, if you ever need a new blogger, let me know…” but I never actually thought it would happen!

During the week, we took a road trip from New York to New Jersey, and on the way back I was sitting next to Girls’ Globe Founder – Julia Wiklander. Since there was a lot of traffic, we started chatting about our projects and how we wound up where we are.

I told Julia about the time I was counselor of a WiSci (Women in Science) Camp at Peru, an initiative of Girl Up, which is a UN campaign that sees girls from Mexico, the United States, Peru and Chile learning from companies like Google and Intel.

I told her that we had the incredible opportunity to write a few blog posts on Huffington Post about the experience, but also how unfortunate it was that they were posted on Huffington Post Spain, because there was’t a dedicated platform for Latin America (until recently – Huffington Post has since expanded to Mexico). I thought it was a shame because although we share the same language, we have very different realities, and I felt we needed a distinct platform for Latin America.

So I dropped the big question: “Hey, have you thought of translating girlsglobe.org to Spanish?” Without hesitation Julia said: “Oh, I haven’t, but let’s do it!

First, I joined Girls’ Globe as blogger, and the rush of writing my first post about Latin America’s march against gender-based violence was incredibly empowering. Every statistic was painful, but the thought of writing for a global platform about issues specifically affecting my region, my country and of my community kept me going. I was going to be able to share our pain and our joy, and have other women and men from the world join our fight.

I was (and I still am) talking about Girls’ Globe everywhere. We now have several active bloggers from Latin America. We’re adding content about our region, and that is a major victory.

One of the major challenges is something for which I have to applaud the Latin American bloggers: writing and expressing themselves in another language. One of our big goals for the future is to be able to translate content on girlsglobe.org – not only into Spanish, but Portuguese too – as by doing so we will be able to elevate more girls and young women from the region who feel more comfortable writing in their native language.

And so this is a love letter to girlsglobe.org. Girls’ Globe has given me a place where I can raise my voice, without fear and without censure, and for that I will be forever grateful. It has given me the opportunity to bring more women on board to join this unique community and give them a space to express themselves about issues that matter to them. Girls’ Globe is a place where we can all belong.

Throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Girls’ Globe is crowdfunding to be able to keep raising voices in 2018. Please support us so that we can continue to share our stories and reach every corner of the world! If you are a Latin American reader and are interested in becoming a blogger, please feel free to leave a comment. 

Speaking Out Against Violence…Today & Every Day

25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and marks the first day of the annual 16 Days of Activism campaign.

Gender-based violence (GBV) remains one of the most pervasive and persistent violations of human rights in the world. It reaches into every country, every community and every corner of our planet, rearing its ugly head in an ever-shifting range of guises.

The focus of the 2017 #16Days campaign is to ‘Leave No One Behind’. It’s an opportunity to raise greater awareness of GBV and its impact, but also a chance for us to reinforce the global commitment to creating a world free from violence for all, reaching the most marginalized – including refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters – as our first priority.

For each of the #16DaysofActivism, Girls’ Globe will be publishing opinions, ideas and stories from within our global community.

The voices of the individuals and groups with the Girls’ Globe network highlight some of the most pressing issues related to GBV in the world today, as well as some of the most inspiring examples of advocacy and activism.

But it’s not just during #16Days that Girls’ Globe provides a platform to speak out against violence and injustice. We do so all year round, because violence – or the pervasive threat of violence – continues to hold girls and women back, every single day, and so we’ll also be crowdfunding the $20,000 we need to keep girlsglobe.org raising voices in 2018.

To kick off the 2017 16 Days of Activism, we’ve rounded up the year’s 16 most-read GBV blogs on girlsglobe.org. We hope you enjoy reading or re-reading your way through the list, and stay tuned for brand new content published each day until 10 December. Together, we can end violence against women and girls. Together, we can #orangetheworld.

  1. How Martial Arts Helped me Get Back on my Feet

    by Miia Yliaho

    “Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that, like many martial arts, is just as much a way of life as a way to get fit. To succeed in taekwondo, there is only one opponent you have to beat: yourself. You need to accept your limits and turn them into advantages. You need to accept failure and see it as learning: another step towards your goal.You need to accept pain (in a healthy and controlled way), and you will learn that you can endure more than you think.”

  2. Healing from Sexual Trauma: a Therapist’s Perspective

    by Farah Mohammed

    “Victims of assault can have counter-intuitive reactions, which can in turn exacerbate their trauma and cripple recovery efforts. When we broached the question of maladaptive reactions, Wasil was unsurprised, having worked with clients who turn to chemical painkillers like drugs and alcohol, as well as those who develop internal ones, like sexual addiction or gambling. She says that trauma can do more than alter a person’s behavior, it can also decimate their emotional capacity.”

  3. The FGM Conversation has to Change

    by Lorna Andisi

    “It’s been roughly 100 days since 2017 began. Reflecting on the past year’s campaigns against FGM and early marriages, it is true that all who are involved have come a long way. There have been moments where the campaign may have faltered and made missteps – but we’ve also seen some significant progress.”

  4. Why She Stays: Behind the Doors of Domestic Abuse

    by Patti J

    “It seems easy to question some other random person. Yet, it’s more often not some other random person, it’s your co-worker, your neighbor, your friend, your sister. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you don’t know it is. Maybe you think someone else’s situation is worse and so you justify to yourself that yours isn’t that bad, so it couldn’t be considered abuse.”

  5. A Letter to Assault Survivors

    by Girls’ Globe Guest Blogger

    “Smart, strong, reasonable women who have been victimized by sexual assault can still be vulnerable to abusive relationships, sexual situations they don’t know how to control, and unsure how or when to say ‘no’.”

  6. Sugar Daddies are Definitely NOT Sweet

    by Help Lesotho

    “In Lesotho (southern Africa), sugar daddies are called ‘blessers’. As girls’ bodies start to change in early adolescence, older men take notice. The girls, often orphans with no emotional support, crave the attention and feel that it is cool to have an older man show interest in them. A mother from Lesotho explains, ‘we find that for some girls who have grown up without a father, these sugar daddies provide something like a ‘fatherly love’, but really they are exploiting them.'”

  7. Documentary Shatters Stigma on Sexual Violence

    by Peace is Loud

    “Rape is a crime that feeds on silence, and it takes a rupture in the status quo to affect change. After the success of the Akayesu case, local Rwandan tribunals ruled that rape was a “category one” crime, in the same grouping as murder. This was a tremendous step forward, setting a lasting precedent for the severity of sexual assault.”

  8. If They Kill Me

    by Bita Aranda

    “I had to ask a group of women if I should write this at all. If this is how I want to show Mexico to Girls’ Globe’s readers; but they asked me, how could I not? How could I not use this platform to tell the rest of the world what they are doing to us? How could I not write about the gender based violence we live amongst every day? How could I not use this privilege as a way to give those women and girls their voices back – the voices that were ripped out of their chests?”

  9. Always a Survivor

    by Zahra Wakilzada for Free Women Writers

    “When he saw her again, he asked:
    ‘You have a bad reputation now, right?
    Nobody married you, right?
    I warned you.'”

  10. Enjoy Sexual Assault for it to be a Crime

    by Mariana Lizarraga

    “Cases of rape and sexual assault are always shocking. But that perpetrators would be spared from their actions due to how much economic or social power they possess makes it twice as infuriating.”

  11. Art Exhibit Shows Scale of Female Gendercide

    by Gendercide Awareness Project

    “We believe that educating girls is the best long-term strategy for ending gendercide. In a beautiful arc of giving, the at-risk women who made the baby booties are, knowingly or unknowingly, helping the next generation of girls so that they don’t have to be at risk.”

  12. In Conversation with Brisa De Angulo

    by Shakira Choonara

    “When I went to bed that night, I could not fall asleep thinking of Brisa’s story. I reached for the conference app (yes, thank goodness for technology) and requested a meeting, to which she agreed enthusiastically. I could not believe it. I knew that this story absolutely had to be told and shared with the world to bring to light exactly what violence against women means, but also as an example of what it will take to tackle violence head on.”

  13. Yes, Child Marriage is a Problem in Latin America

    by Maria Rendo

    “The rates of child marriage in the region are alarming. According to UNICEF, in five countries (Nicaragua, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Honduras) at least 30 percent of girls marry before the age of 18. In more than 11 countries, among them Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, and Panama, between 20 and 30 percent of girls marry before they turn 18.”

  14. #MeToo: We’re All in this Together

    by Preeti Shakya

    “I think the worst part of being harassed or assaulted is that it makes you forget to be kind to yourself. It makes you question your own existence and forget how to accept yourself. For me, it has taken years of ignorance, silence, self-blame, and internalization, as well as thousands of conversations with friends and family, to feel ‘worthy’ again.”

  15. United We Shall Stand in South Africa

    by Mia du Toit

    “Women and girls are crying out for help. Becoming aware of abuse taking place around us can drive us to make a change and offer a helping hand to those who need one. We each have resources that others may not have, so let’s use our individual privileges to shed some light. To the girls in South Africa who need a safe haven: this country and the authorities might let you downbut I never will.”

  16. How You Can Help End Violence Against Women

    by CARE

    “In emergency contexts where social networks are lost or strained, women and girls too often become targets of violence and abuse – like sexual violence as a weapon of war, exploitation and harassment as refugees, domestic violence and abuse,  and child marriage in the upheaval of displacement.  And when it comes to the assistance that impacts them, they are frequently kept out of the decision-making process.”